Hale vs Harris, and the Breach of Online Ethics

[10/22: This post has been edited to include new information regarding Hale & Harris’s Twitter conversations, and the dissemination of Harris’s physical address. Many thanks to commenter Cheryl for the updates.]

[10/24: This post was edited again to expand on Harris’s alleged involvement with another Goodreads scandal and to add more screenshots of a Twitter conversation.]

Over the last couple of days, fingers have been flying across keyboards all across the book industry in response to the October 18th article in the Guardian, titled Am I being catfished?’ An author confronts her number one online critic. If you have any ear turned towards author, book, or book blogger news, you’ve probably already been introduced to this story. Many prominent bloggers have thrown their weight into the ring, and what perhaps began as a largely “on the author’s side” argument, is now firmly in the realm of “what was she thinking?”

In case you aren’t aware of what happened, feel free to read the article above, or any of the others listed below. However, I will give a small play-by-play of the facts as well, for those that would like the gist. Just be mindful I’m not censoring for language.

  • On July 27th, 2013, a reviewer by the name of Blythe Harris began reading an ARC of author Kathleen Hale’s new book No One Else Can Have You. Until about the 12% mark, Harris’s response to the book was quite positive, with comments such as “…awesome prologue”, “I am enjoying this so much.” and “It’s really good! A bit formulaic on some levels (particularly the dead friend’s journal) but it’s fun.”
  • On the 29th of the same month, Harris shelved the book at 16%, likely [and this is my conjecture] due to the “multiple animal deaths” that were upsetting her.
  • November 6th: Hale goes to Twitter, asking users to “tweet me any weird thing (ie, strawberry toothpaste, plaid boob tape, the name of some friend you wanna prank)” and she would put it in her next book. Harris responds with one line [this is the only known interaction between Hale and Harris on Twitter]:
  • On November 10th, Harris began reading the book again. It is at this point that Harris’s status updates begin to get very critical and frustrated (italics are quotes from the book):
    • This is all probably just some kind of postwar flip-out. So…this book has essentially trivialized PTSD (a fucking postwar “flip-out”?), and will soon trivialize domestic abuse and mental issues (among other things)? WHY WOULD ANYONE THINK THIS IS OKAY. I. DO NOT. LIKE. THIS. BOOK.
      • In response to a friend’s reply: Why in the world would anyone even THINK it’s okay to use these issues for laughs? And to degrade the severity of such issues? Awful.
    • […] I’m not saying that Ruth brought it on herself for being huggable, or anything, just that the whole Colt thing [Colt being Ruth’s ALLEGED MURDERER] makes sense to me now on more than one level. If this book just excused an alleged murderer and maybe rapist for doing such because the girl who was murdered and maybe raped was HUGGABLE…
      • Harris’s reply to her own status update: If someone reads the above passage differently than I have, please tell me. Literally, I read one page, and there’s this shit.
      • In response to a friend: AND SLUT SHAMING! ON THE SAME PAGE.
      • At the 25% mark: Let’s see…in three pages: 1. The MC has revealed herself to be a rape apologist; 2. The brother of the murdered girl said he doesn’t think the alleged murdered killed his sister because, and I quote, he is a pansy; 3. and lastly, slut-shaming! Kippy: “So what, everyone’s hooked up with [her]. She’s like some kind of blonde rabbit in heat.” *uses book to build a fire*
      • Interactions with [names redacted]. Note Harris’s overall tone:
        • [Name Redacted] wrote: By rape apologist do you mean that she takes the rapist’s side? That she understands why the rapist did it? Because I might get stabby if I read that.
        • Blythe Harris wrote: She says it “makes sense” to her, because the girl was so huggable. She doesn’t really take his side, but she basically says she sees why her best friend was raped because she was so huggable. Which… I can’t.
        • [Name Redacted] wrote: Okay how the fuck does that make sense? Seriously that makes no sense. At least if it went along with slut shamming I could get that she was slut shamming but saying “My friend is so huggable I understand why she got raped” makes no sense to me at all.
        • Blythe Harris wrote: Throughout the novel the characters haven’t cursed, like “heck” instead of “hell”, “darn/dang”, etc. Maybe saying “huggable” was like the non-cursing way for the MC to call her best friend a slut? Either way, it’s awful.
        • [Name Redacted] wrote: Tentatively wading in here. I finished the book without the strong (yet certainly valid) emotions expressed above. To me, all of the characters were deliberately portrayed as off-kilter. Our MC frequently blurts out strange and inappropriate comments (there’s a reason why she only had one friend,) and the brother is deep in the nightmare of PTSD after returning home from the war. The MC also describes her dead friend as having the kind of skin you want to touch. Weird. For me, the character development was intriguing, as in, “Who *are* these people?” I …liked the book.
        • [Name Redacted] wrote: I’d have to agree with [name redacted]––I really enjoyed this book. Blythe, I think a lot of this book is satirizing those small-town norms and attitudes, and I’m curious to see if you start to feel differently as you get further in. I think that much of the commentary/inner monologue from the MC has to do with navigating growing up in this kind of community while also dealing with the grab-bag of problems that start to emerge around adolescence. I definitely didn’t read it as victim-blaming or slut-shaming in its content, but I did think that many of the peripheral characters (who are NOT portrayed positively) turn a blind eye to some atrocities because the small town is pretty mired in rape culture and a sense of sexuality as pathology. I felt like a deep criticism of these attitudes was part of the undercurrent of the book, which weighs “social niceties/manners” against the grisly terror that those things often mask.
        • Blythe Harris wrote: I agree that the characters are off-kilter, but I do think there is a way to depict zany and odd characters that isn’t offensive or insensitive to serious issues such as PTSD, domestic violence, slut-shaming, and rape. I’m glad you liked the book, and I hope that it gets better for me as I progress, but it’s certainly not looking too great for me. Weird characters are fine by me. Offensive and/or ignorant statements made in order to accentuate the weirdness of the characters are not.
  • Five days later, on November 15th, Blythe makes her second to last update:
    • Almost an entire chapter without any offensive comments or actions, and then this happens: “I’m not going to pretend to be some faggot crybaby like you just because that’s what everybody wants.” Should have seen that one coming.
  • On December 11th, Blythe gives up on the book after a piece of dialog she finds offensive (she said, in her own comments: “What I’m doing with this book is basically just reading until I find something offensive, but since that’s normally every other page or so, I try to make it through a chapter. But I’ve been busy reading better books lately, so this is not one of my top priorities, ha. ;)”)
  • Blythe’s final review is posted, making use of the infamous “shelves of shame” on Goodreads:

Screenshot 2014-10-20 23.35.58

Before I continue on to the interactions between Blythe and Kathleen Hale, I want to point out something. Actually, a few things.

  1. Goodreads is a social media site devoted to the discussion of books. As Foz Meadows wrote in 2012, Goodreads does not actively moderate the content on their site [though their review policy has now changed to penalize any reviews or shelves that ‘author-bash’], and I feel they shouldn’t have to. Imagine, for a moment, that all of your Facebook status updates (“The pizza at XYZ Pizzeria was awful.”; “I can’t believe I just sat through three hours of that garbage movie!”) were treated like book reviewer’s opinions on books are. Goodreads is exactly like Facebook in this regard [it is not a market––you must buy your books off-site], and all members of the community are completely within their rights to speak about the books they are reading. They should not have to censor their reactions.
  2. Blythe Harris was NOT, at least on this platform, in any way that I can see, attacking Kathleen Hale. Her comments were completely focused on the book, and she maintained a civil presence around those who disagreed with her assessment. Strong language, though crude to some, does not constitute bullying or even libel.
  3. When an author is writing about “hot topics”, such as PTSD, mental illness, and sexual abuse, they need to be aware that they are going to attract charged opinions.
  4. The book is published. It is now in the realm of opinion, good, bad, and neutral. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books wrote an excellent article to the point: “When you publish a book, when you create anything and release it into the world as entertainment to be consumed and enjoyed by other people, you lose all control of the conversation about your creation.” (PS- the comments section is also worth a read.)

Now that I’ve set the stage from the perspective of Blythe Harris, it’s time to move on to Kathleen Hale, using her own words from the Guardian article linked above. It should be noted before beginning this summary that Hale had written two previous articles of note: one for Medium.com,  What Happens When a Girl You Barely Know Accuses Your Mom of Child Molestationand another article for the Guardian talking about her personal trials with sexual abuse, From prey to predator: how I got justice after sexual assault. These two posts have been linked several times in other places, and while I think the first one is semi-relevant to the issue at hand, the second merely gives more insight into the type of person Hale is. She has persevered through some very serious life circumstances, and she should be applauded for that. But, she has also shown herself to have a history of stepping out of line, as in the first article. And in her newest article, which is the meat of this very long blog post.

According to Kathleen, she and Blythe Harris’s paths first crossed on Twitter, when Blythe responded to one of Hale’s tweets to say she “had some ideas for Hale’s next book”. It should be noted, again, that this exchange happened four days before Blythe took Hale’s novel back off “the shelf” to resume reading. At this point, the only negative thing she had noted was the large amount of animal deaths. Blythe’s Twitter has since disappeared, so I can not verify it, but I think it is fair to assume that there was a fair amount of snark here. Snark happens, though. It’s the internet. It might have been upsetting, and I don’t think either of these women realized how far that initial interaction would take them.

A couple of bloggers have since come forward, and as noted above, the exchange between Harris and Hale was very civil, and not even about the review. However, another interaction Hale had with reviewers (specifically Kara, who gave her book a 3-star rating) could be noted here, to show her general combative nature towards reviewers:

The next day, Blythe Harris tweeted a couple of messages about the previous event, but did not tag Hale in her comments:

Hale began obsessing with Harris. I use the word obsess because it can be nothing but. Armed with knowledge of Blythe’s admittedly less civil reviews for another book involved with a scandal (which I did not care to research––this rabbit hole is deep enough! I have researched this event after all: please see the bottom of this post) after her mother introduced her to the frequently challenged Stop the Goodreads Bullies site, Hale (and her mother) began to connect any negativity of the book to Harris. Any negative tweets, or reviews that mentioned Harris’s review, all seemed to be the undeniable fault of Harris herself (which, really, how likely is that?)

Hale drew connections where there were very likely none. The only reason I mention any of it is because these events and her theory regarding them is what would serve as her justification for what came next. Feeding into this justification was the advice of “Patricia Winston”, a name changed by Hale to protect her source. Winston repeatedly warned Hale not to respond, that Hale was being baited on Twitter (which may have been true, again, we don’t have Blythe’s Twitter to look at anymore) so that the “Goodreads Bullies” could begin their “career-destroying phase”.

Hale, in light of this information, began searching Blythe’s social networks (emphasis mine): “Confronting her would mean publicly acknowledging that I searched my name on Twitter, which is about as socially attractive as setting up a Google alert for your name (which I also did). So instead I ate a lot of candy and engaged in light stalking: I prowled Blythe’s Instagram and Twitter, I read her reviews, considered photos of her baked goods and watched from a distance as she got on her soapbox – at one point bragging she was the only person she knew who used her real name and profession online. As my fascination mounted, and my self-loathing deepened, I reminded myself that there are worse things than rabid bloggers (cancer, for instance) and that people suffer greater degradations than becoming writers. But still, I wanted to respond.”

At this point in the article, I was a little worried about where it was heading. As a traditionally published author with HarperCollins, I would have thought that there would have been some kind of “user manual” given to authors trying to build an online presence. People in the film industry certainly get some sort of talk about what is and isn’t appropriate for a public figure. Responding to reviews is one of the first things I learned never to do as an author. There’s even a Hall of Fame for authors who decide not to take this advice (Jacqueline Howett comes to mind immediately).

Hale’s article continues. In the next paragraph, it begins:

“Why do hecklers heckle? Recent studies have had dark things to say about abusive internet commenters – a University of Manitoba report suggested they share traits with child molesters and serial killers.”

Is Hale actually, seriously trying to link the context of Harris’s “heckle” on the level with criminals? She continues:

“I had a feeling the motivation behind heckling, or trolling, was similar to why most people do anything – why I write, or why I was starting to treat typing my name into search boxes like it was a job. It occurred to me Blythe and I had this much in common: we were obsessed with being heard.

But empathy didn’t untangle the knots in my stomach. I still wanted to talk to her, and my self-control was dwindling. One afternoon, good-naturedly drunk on bourbon and after watching Blythe tweet about her in-progress manuscript, I sub-tweeted that, while weird, derivative reviews could be irritating, it was a relief to remember that all bloggers were also aspiring authors.

My notifications feed exploded. Bloggers who’d been nice to me were hurt. Those who hated me now had an excuse to write long posts about what a bitch I was…”

Whether Hale recognizes it or not, her sub-tweet was bait. The same sort of bait she was complaining about with Harris. Even though she later retracted the thought (lamely, admittedly), her initial comment suggested that bloggers are not serious writers, or bloggers are merely “aspiring” until they have a traditional contract. The comment was enough to put Hale’s foot into another highly charged subject (the validity of bloggers), and lost her some supporters. But is that Harris’s fault?

“A few nights later I called my friend Sarah, to talk while I got drunk and sort of watched TV. Opening a new internet window, I absent-mindedly returned to stalking Blythe Harris. Somehow, I had never Googled her before and now, when I did, there was nothing to be found – which was weird, considering she was a high school staff member.”

We live in a world in which the casual “stalking” of people is often treated as a joke, but at this point, lines were being crossed. As someone who has experienced being stalked through the public information of my place of employment, this paragraph made my skin crawl. There is a certain code of decency, of trust, placed on people who know my name not to abuse it, to not cross the lines into my personal life to simply satisfy “curiosity”. But relieving her curiosity was not what Hale was after. She wanted confrontation. Further perusal of Blythe’s online profiles made Hale question whether this was an online pseudonym (and why does it matter if it was?)

A few months went by afterward where Hale forgot about Harris and went on with her life. But then, the truly unforgivable action occurred. A book club reached out to Harris, wanting to do an interview, and asked for a blogger recommendation.

Kathleen Hale, taking advantage of the book club’s goodwill and trust, asked for Blythe Harris’s home address.

Screenshot 2014-10-22 21.47.17

Kathleen Hale obtained Blythe Harris’s address under false pretenses, with the intent to confront her in her personal space.

The book club book review site YA Reads gave her Blythe’s address after some general confusion (see the link for the blog’s statement). The rest of what happened has been summarized by a user on PasteBin (though I add a few elements that I think are important):

1. Obtained a blogger’s address under false pretenses.

Then a book club wanted an interview, and suggested I pick a blogger to do it.
“[Blogger’s Name],” I wrote back. I knew tons of nice bloggers, but I still longed to engage with [her] directly.

The book club explained that it was common for authors to do “giveaways” in conjunction with the interview, and asked if I could sign some books. I agreed, and they forwarded me [her] address.

2. Once armed with the address, pay for a background check to determine blogger’s name and employer. 

According to the telephone directory and recent census reports, nobody named [blogger’s name] lived there. The address belonged to someone I’ll call [ ] who, according to an internet background check ($19), was 46 – not 27, as Blythe was – and worked as [job] of a company that authorises [stuff].

3. Rents a car to drive to the blogger’s house (an address she obtained under false pretenses).

“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” Sarah said, sending me a car rental link. “Go talk to her.”
… I opened a new tab to book a car.

4. Why? Because her feelings got hurt. (She believed she was being catfished, though there is no evidence to support the idea that Blythe specifically created a fake identity to tear Hale down.)

“How did you know that she hurt my feelings?”

I asked [a professional] about his catfished patients: how did they [ie, how would I, Kathleen Hale] react in the months that followed their discovery? “Depression, anxiety. They tend to spend more time online rather than less.” I self-consciously x’d out of my browser window, open to three Blythe Harris platforms.

“They’re hyper-vigilant, always checking their phone. Certainly substance abuse.” I reconsidered the cocktails I’d planned for that evening. “The response is going to vary,” he concluded, “but it will have a commonality of self-loathing and self-harm.”

5. She goes to the blogger’s house. Examines the property and the contents of the owner’s vehicle, looks at the dogs, compares the information with all the information the blogger has innocently shared online such as vacations and her pets.

Before I could change my mind, I walked briskly down the street toward the Mazda parked in Judy’s driveway. A hooded sweatshirt with glittery pink lips across the chest lay on the passenger seat; in the back was a large folder full of what looked like insurance claims. I heard tyres on gravel and spun round to see a police van. For a second I thought I was going to be arrested, but it was passing by – just a drive through a quiet neighbourhood where the only thing suspicious was me.

I strolled to the front door. A dog barked and I thought of [her] Instagram Pomeranian. Was it the same one? The doorbell had been torn off, and up close the garden was overgrown. I started to feel hot and claustrophobic. The stupid happiness book grew sweaty in my hands. I couldn’t decide whether to knock.

The curtains were drawn, but I could see a figure silhouetted in one window, looking at me.
The barking stopped.

I dropped the book on the step and walked away.

6. Calls the blogger’s work under false pretenses (in effect, catfishing Blythe):

Instead of returning to [her] house, which still felt like the biggest breach of decency I’d ever pulled, I decided to call her at work. Sarah and I rehearsed the conversation.

“What do I even say?” I kept asking.

“Just pretend to be a factchecker,” she said.

“So now I’m catfishing her.”

I called the number, expecting to get sent to an operator. But a human answered and when I asked for [her], she put me through.

I spat out the line about needing to factcheck a piece. She seemed uncertain but agreed to answer some questions.

“Is this how to spell your name?” I asked, and spelled it.

7. Confirms that this is the address of the blogger with a publisher.

An hour after I got off the phone to [her], [she] deleted her Twitter and set her Instagram to private. A contact at a publishing house confirmed that they’d been sending books to Judy’s address all year, and as recently as two weeks ago.

The final paragraphs of Kathleen’s article end:

Although, like anyone with a tendency for low-grade insanity, I occasionally grow nostalgic for the thing that makes me nuts.

Unlike iPhone messages or Facebook, Twitter doesn’t confirm receipt of direct messages. Even so, I return now and then to our one-way conversation, wanting so badly for the time stamp at the bottom of my message to read “Seen”.

This article has since been ripped apart and Hale condemned for her actions, but I believe Jim C. Hines said it best:

While I see some recognition that maybe Hale made mistakes, and that she was personally in a bad emotional space, I don’t see any understanding or awareness of the lines and boundaries she crossed, or how serious those violations were. Nor does the Guardian provide any sort of context or acknowledgement of the same. Hale ends her post with the nostalgic admission that she still wishes from time to time for confirmation that Blythe has seen those old messages. There are people reading this article as if Hale is a hero standing up to the bullies of the internet.

She’s not. She’s someone who stalked and harassed a book blogger and reviewer. Someone who, to my reading, still doesn’t seem to recognize the lines she crossed. Someone who leveraged her harassment into an article for the Guardian.

In this I have to agree. The signs are abundant in the tone of the piece that Hale has not even considered the duress of the person she has stalked, remaining resolutely selfish in her obsession to have closure (closure to a problem that may have not even existed in the other party’s mind). Her main regret, if you could call it that, was that her arrival at Harris’s house still felt like a bad thing for her to have done, not that it IS a bad thing for her to have done.

The lack of any editorial context allows for her tone to be celebratory (indeed, the tone is exactly the same as her two articles I linked to above, where she “triumphs” over her abusers), even though the tone, as we can see it, from Blythe Harris was relatively standard criticism in an online community. Blythe Harris is not the girl that accused Hale’s mother of child abuse. Blythe Harris is not the convicted felon Hale encountered at Harvard.

Blythe Harris is a book blogger. And whether she writes her reviews with the consideration of a Care Bear or with the cynicism of George Carlin, it is her right. The evidence that remains online is that Blythe never called out the author. And even if she had, there is no justification for stalking another person. There is no justification for abusing the trust of a book club reaching out to authors in order to settle a personal issue. There is no justification for breaching anyone’s privacy with a background check for a non-criminal offense (employers not included, as the applicant accepts this practice to be observed), renting a car, and journeying to that person’s house to confront them as an unwanted guest and trespasser.

Kathleen Hale was in the wrong, completely and fully. No matter what language Blythe Harris used, there was simply no justification for Hale’s actions. None.

FURTHER READING:


[10/24 Addendum: Blythe Harris and The League of Strays “Scandal”]

In her article, Kathleen Hale used evidence provided by STGRB on a review escalation as justification for assuming Blythe was a “Goodreads Bully”. The STGRB post (linked at the beginning of the article) cherry-picked its screenshots to paint a subjective picture which strengthened their own argument. I would absolutely suggest that you read the review for yourself, as it is too long for me to link here.

Blythe Harris's review of League of Strays

 

Shortly after Blythe posted this review, another reviewer came forward (as you can see in Blythe’s own review) and called out Blythe indirectly (not saying her name, but offering over enough personal information so that it would be clear whom she was addressing). Though Michelle (the reviewer) would later edit her review to take out the baiting language, Blythe shared screenshots of the exchange.

Michelle admits in both the current review and the prior version that she is a 14-year-old girl, however, many members of Goodreads have mentioned in the comments here and elsewhere that this is a common tactic from members of STGRB, or authors trying to negatively impact a critical review. Typical evidence is a lack of friends or ratings, and the date of membership. In the case of Michelle’s account, it only has one rating (League of Strays) and one review (League of Strays). The rest of the profile is set to private, so I can not ascertain the date she joined the site.

However, given the nature of her comments, and the way she addressed another reviewer in her own review, I think Blythe was justified to answer her as she did. There is some suggestion, on Blythe’s part, to take a look at three more possible “sock puppet” accounts on the book (one of which turned out to be the author’s own daughter, who had read the book long before it’s official release date), but again, since Blythe was put on the defensive side of things, I think this was a natural, if unfortunate, chain of events. If Michelle was not a troll, she was at the very least a heckler, and Blythe was justified in responding. The actions of the other authors running to Michelle’s review does not seem to have been rallied by Blythe. I see this in my own writing group all the time. If a troll is suspected, members will of their own volition approach with the intent to drive them off the board. It is an easy psychology to demystify. People don’t like dishonesty, and they don’t like invaders encroaching on their space, either.

 

 

287 thoughts on “Hale vs Harris, and the Breach of Online Ethics

  1. I think it’s fair to describe Ms. Hale, at least, as an “unreliable narrator.”

    Fascinating, in a train-wreck kind of way, but perhaps not a paragon of clear-eyed analysis.

    Thank you for this – especially the details regarding Blythe Harris’s role, which has been so recklessly mischaracterized by Hale defenders (like Anne Rice).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: #HaleNo | The Book Curmudgeon

  3. Pingback: An Author Behaved Badly…Very Badly | Roqoo Depot

  4. Pingback: Kathleen Hale stalks a very bad reviewer | A Writer's Vanity

  5. I am a great believer in forgive and forget so here’s hoping Hale learns from her mistake. That said, I see why many commentators accuse her of lacking remorse. I noticed it more in her article about being assaulted.

    Thank you for posting this. When I first heard about it I took the accusations levelled at Hale with a pinch of salt – mainly because the people who made them, on a forum I often visit, make quite a lot of such accusations. I suspect Hale may need some help from a psyciatrist rather than vilification in the media, but having put her story out there, herself, she has kind of walked into that.

    Her agent, or publisher really should have given her some firm guidance there, too.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Like

  6. Pingback: The ‘No One Else Can Have You’ Incident | The Self-Education of Chichi Tsai

  7. Reblogged this on books, life, & wine and commented:
    I’ve avoided blogging about the Kathleen Hale incident for quite some time. Mostly because I am unsure of what to say and how to articulate my outrage. I can say that it has had a detrimental effect on my reading, my reviewing and my book buying. I have been in shock. I’ve not wanted to read any books – maybe the Kathleen Hale boogieman might get me. I’ve not wanted to review books – maybe some asshole will come to my house because their butt feels hurt. I’ve not wanted to BUY books – why spend my money on an activity that gives me less joy now?

    That, my dears, is the effect of Kathleen Hale deciding that she was so fucking important that she had the right to show the fuck up at someone’s house because she was upset.

    This I can say: I will call the police, file a report and press charges against anyone showing up at my home. I will track you down right the fuck back if need be – but you will face police charges. I will spend every dollar that belongs to anyone in my entire extended family to ensure a nice harsh place for that person beneath the jail.

    Alex Hurst has complied the most detailed and thorough report of exactly what Kathleen Hale has done. I’ve reblogged his excellent post but I strongly encourage you to click through to read the comments section.

    #HALENO

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Alex! Thank you for your wonderful post. I do not reblog often so I did not expect the comments I made in the reblog would should up in your space – I thought it would just post to my blog. Please feel free to delete!

    Like

  9. Pingback: Bibliophiles Anonymous #97 – Author vs. Reviewer | Bibliophiles Anonymous

  10. Pingback: Hale vs Harris, and the Breach of Online Ethics | Revealed: Behind STGRB

  11. Pingback: #HaleNoBlogTrain: Snarky Reviewing is Not a Crime…Stalking Is (Repost) | ORGANIC COFFEE, haphazardly

  12. Pingback: A blogger’s response to Hale – #haleno | Dee's Book Blog

  13. Pingback: Episode 21 – Auther-Reader Interaction | Papercuts Podcast

  14. Great article, Alex. Thank you for being objective while everyone else have gone to war over this on one side or the other.

    I’ve been reading a lot of blogs from the #HaleNo Blog Train, and they’re all treating it as an author who didn’t know how to graciously take a bad review. The issue is much deeper than that.

    This is an author who was scared her book was being targetted for destruction, and responded very, very badly to it. Yes, she responded badly, but did she have a valid reason to be scared?

    While the review and comments on Hale’s own book are very mild mannered IMHO, the things I’ve seen on the League of Strays review made me shudder. The two reviews are eerily simmilar: in both Blythe has stopped reading halfway because of some imagined offense the writer has done, in both she gets fixated on a “wrong” word, faggot and pansy (seriously, pansy??? Who gets offended by pansy?). But that’s not what made me shudder. It’s the ease with which she sicced her followers to the alleged puppet accounts. Like, hey, check this out. Sounds innocent, but anyone who has spent five minutes on any social networking site knows what’s going to happen next: her followers will swoop down on those accounts and their reviews like flies on shit. That’s just NOT something a responsible, well meaning person does. And it’s not like those “puppet accounts” were all in response to her bad review – the author’s daughter had given the book five stars long before that. Blythe took the trouble to hunt them down and call them out, for no other reason then because she could. It’s like, Blythe can have what ever opinion she likes, but no one else can. And then there are the one star reviews from Blythe’s followers who have never actually read the book. If I were Hale, and saw all that, I’d be scared too. I wouldn’t show up on the woman’s doorstep, that’s for sure, but I’d be praying somewhere that she forgets about my book, fast. Nothing justifies real-life stalking, but there’s also no doubt that there’s something terribly wrong with Goodreeds. This might be a great oportunity to address that issue as well, if people choose to take it. But knowing people, they’ll choose to act like jerks instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: A Month On from #HaleNo | Tez Says

  16. Pingback: The Dictionary of Purple Prose Gets an Update | Alex Hurst

  17. Pingback: The Book Smugglers | Smugglivus 2014: The Airing of Grievances

  18. Pingback: ReBlog: Hale vs Harris, and the Breach of Online Ethics | Books, Life & Wine

  19. I just stumbled upon this site. I haven’t looked up my book in six months. I want to forget about it, frankly, and start fresh with new projects. It was a terrible experience. For the record, now that time has gone by, the reviewer “Michelle” was not me or my daughter. I spoke with Michelle and those are her opinions. My book was harmed immeasurably from all the low reviews from people who didn’t even read it-friends of Blythe. Some readers who actually read the book were surprised, and they admitted to wondering where the big controversy was. Because there really wasn’t mcuh. Whatever mistakes my character made, she made, as part of her journey toward maturity. Certainly, a character’s viewpoint does not reflect on the personality and flaws of the author, as was repeatedly suggested. It still hurts, these two years later, I won’t lie. I’m not talking about Blythe’s review, but the mass impact it had on any potential future readers that I lost. Yes, Blythe can write what she wants. It’s her right, but her suggestions hurt my reputation. In fact, the comments about me behaving badly are so exaggerated, but I have to let them go. I only commented three times in regards to this, and they were quick comments. The worst mistake I made was on my Facebook page about how the stop the bullying site made me smile, and that was understandably misinterpreted. What I meant was that I was happy that there were people out there who were finally going to speak up about the bullying on Goodreads. Remember, this happened when the site was new and hadn’t been particularly controversial yet. But still, I should have kept my relief contained. As for bloggers, I believe they should be honest, but there is never a need to be mean or cruel or try to hurt someone’s future career,which is just what happened in terms of my book, League of Strays. In any case, no person should stalk another, not ever, for any reason. By the way, Blythe did hunt down lots of personal info on my daughter when she thought it was me. She found out what school she went to, what grade she was in, and then put that personal information on Twitter. She came a lot closer to “stalking” as they call it than I ever did. The whole experience will always go down as a bizarre, painful, and mostly untrue roasting of a new author and her book. Luckily, I am a strong person and was eventually able to write again. I just finished my second book and almost done with my third. But I do understand those who are shy about the process of writing and are thinking about taking the controversy out of their books. It shouldn’t be like this. Many readers like learning from protagonists’ problems. They don’t need every character to be born strong and powerful and heroic. I’ve heard from readers who understood the point of LOS, and I will forever be grateful for their support. So that’s a part of my story. Thanks for letting me tell it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So……you make all these claims about this reviewer, but for three years you’ve expressed support for STGRB. That brands you as a bully yourself, one whose idea of bullying is a mediocre review. Melissa Douthit, the owner of the site, was banned from Goodreads for having twenty seven sock puppets, which she used to review her own books, and attack those of other authors. Her site has doxxed numerous reviewers, then erased the doxxing, claiming it never happened.

      That’s what YOU endorse.

      I’ll be waiting eagerly for you to prove your accusations.

      Like

      1. You misinterpreted what I said. It was a mistake to claim support for the site, I readily admit and always have. What I was saying was that when I made it, it was during the peak of the attacks against me as a person, and at the time, this was a new site that had done nothing controversial yet. As soon as they did, I publicly withdrew my support. However, they were the only ones At The Time who were saying, Hey, there’s another side to this story-let’s look at reviewing responsibly. Also, please know that Blythe started something massive that I was told by many not to respond to. As a result, innumerable potential readers never glanced at my book. Many brought it down without ever opening a page. This has harmed my career and my own emotional state. It should never have happened. As for my reaction to mediocre reviews, I wrote a two star reviewer and thanked her for her reasonable review. She never attacked me, just brought up salient points about the book itself. I am great with those kind of reviews. In fact, those are the ones I learn from.

        Like

        1. I’m still waiting for proof of your allegations against this reviewer, specifically your claims that she doxxed and stalked you
          .
          Calling reviewing “bullying” does you no favors. These reviewers do so for no pay. The people with power here are authors. They have the connections and the backing. They get heard.

          Kathleen Hale got her (by now thoroughly-documented) lies published by an international publication. Your claims about Harris sound a lot like hers….and hers have been disproven. It also sounds odd compared to the story of at least one other author, who noted that Harris gave her book a bad review…which didn’t stop them from becoming friends.

          Like

          1. I’m not sure what proof you mean. That Blythe put my daughter’s school and grade up on Twitter? No, I don’t have that. I didn’t even know what a screenshot was back then, and it was only up for a few days before someone told her she might want to take it down. Ask Blythe or any of the people reading her Tweets at the time. As for the three brief comments I made during that entire year, it’s all up on Goodreads. You can look for it. I hardly said anything, so you won’t find much. And finally, I never put down bloggers in any way. Most bloggers are serious about critiquing and do so in a professional manner. I’ve given many interviews to bloggers and respect them tremendously. To do what they do without pay shows a true devotion to books. But like all professions, there are some bloggers who don’t do a good job. It’s my opinion that bloggers can be honest AND decent at the same time. I also believe that reviewers should read an entire book before jumping to conclusions about it, as the ending often holds the true message of a book. I also know that a one-star review can be decent and kind when written in considerately. Blythe will never have my respect, nor will the “friends of Blythe” who made personal attacks against me and said things about my book that were flat out false in order to bring down my debut novel. Many actually admitted to not reading the book. So this is my story. You can continue to try to inflame matters and demand proof, but I can only give you my side of matters as they stand. Some of the proof you are demanding is on GR if you want to look for yourself. The rest is lost to history.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. TinaNicole

              You’re right, there isn’t much. In fact, it seems most readers took issue with the content of your book. Not your behavior. Which may not be fair but it isn’t inappropriate and it certainly isn’t bullying. People don’t have to be kind to you or your book. Readers don’t owe you anything, neither does anyone else, and as an adult you should be aware of that fact by now.

              I did find one of two of your comments though. A tweet in regards to STGRB and also a comment about bloggers, that were both deleted and both made *after* the site had established what they were all about.

              https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/347263423?book_show_action=true&page=1#comment_54312698
              https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/347263423?book_show_action=true&page=1#comment_54324209

              “You can add me to this list. It’s very fresh and I ‘d be happy to discuss it with you. Of course, I wasn’t expecting it, and given that they targeted my debut novel within a day of it coming out as a Netgalley ARC made it hurt all the more. I am mostly over it now and it has died down, but I think this is a wonderful idea. Part of the problem is that not everyone should get a Netgalley ARC. These people need to be screened better. Ironically, my YA is about bullying, so now at least I have personal experience to share with my readers…”

              And JFTR, I’m pretty sure the only ‘inflaming’ this situation is you. Your book is only mentioned briefly in this post and it’s in regards to an incident with another reviewer. So I’m honestly a little confused why you’re even bringing this up, implying Blythe ruined your career and is the cause of your books failures, over an issue that happened several years ago, on a three month old post.

              Honestly, what are hoping to accomplish here?

              Like

              1. People want to see the worst of me, and I really don’t know why, nor do I care anymore. Some people loved my book; others hated it. I respect all opinions that were presented in a professional manner. I also stopped supporting the STGRB site as soon as I saw the problem-end of statement. All I wanted to do was have a book that I worked on for ten years come out and make a difference in some people’s lives. It did that. As for the rest, I have to move on. I know the truth, Blythe knows the truth, and the people who gave it one star without reading it know the truth. Everyone else is guessing and assuming. This happened two years ago, by the way. I’m an author, not a criminal. Can we at least agree to disagree as to what occurred when and let it go to?

                Like

                1. TinaNicole

                  Ms. Schulman, I was around in 2012 but I’ve never heard of you, your book, or this kerfuffle and to be completely honest, I don’t really care.

                  You are the one who came here making accusations, on a three month dormant post that about an over two year old issue, and telling people to go look for themselves. I’m sorry if you don’t like what I came up with but that’s not really my problem nor do I have any issues ‘letting it go’.

                  And I said before and you repeated, it happened years ago which is why I asked why you were bringing it up.

                  I suppose you have no reason for that, huh. Or at least not any you want to acknowledge or admit to maybe.

                  And FWIW, I know it probably makes you feel better to have someone to blame for your failures, but Blythe isn’t that powerful. Sorry, she’s not. And in my almost four years being active in the online reading community I’ve yet to see a single blogger/reviewer with the power to singlehandedly destroy a book and certainly not a career. Nor any that would even want to.

                  Your book has 406 ratings on GRs right now and an average rating of 3.25. It has 171 5-star ratings and 71 1-stars. Most of which are accompanied by genuine reviews. With the majority of other ratings being either 3 or 4-stars. 67% of people liked the book, according to GRs.

                  I’d take your own suggestion and just let it go, lady. As well my suggestion of growing up.

                  Like

                2. TinaNicole

                  And another thing, if you’re looking for reviews presented ‘in a professional manner’ it’s probably not the best idea to read amateur reviews, which are all that’s allowed on sites like GRs and Amazon.

                  Bloggers/readers reviewing for fun b/c they love reading aren’t presenting professional opinions and they shouldn’t be expected to simply b/c some authors think everyone should treat their bookbaby with the kindness and respect they feel it deserves.

                  Have a good one, Ms. Schulman.

                  Like

                  1. Please see my reply to Ginmar below. And I know you have a point here. I didn’t expect these bloggers to be unprofessional, so I wasn’t prepared for it when it happened. Regardless, I kept out of it beyond the three small comments I made in the beginning…one letting them know that one person was my daughter, another asking readers to please read my whole book before jumping to conclusions, and the third about the the STGRB site, which I quickly withdrew support when I realized where it was heading. I know you might not understand, but it is very hard to remain silent for months when blatant lies are being told about you as a person. I’m actually proud of how I pulled back right away. But as you will see from below, a synchonicity has convinced me to knock down one major lie that Blythe told…that she never looked into and mentioned publicly my personal information and especially, info about my children. She was trying to discredit me, but couldn’t. I don’t want to get into any more discussion over this, but I did want to say you had a point, and also to show what I have since everyone keeps asking me for proof.

                    Like

                  2. You keep refusing to address my questions. Your daughter reviews your book, then gets caught, and you admit it. Then a number of socks show up, behaving exactly like your daughter had. Then Harris reports people are trying to find her address.

                    I’ve already told you, those photos you sent me are complete blurs. You need to let the camera focus.

                    Like

            2. So you have no proof and now you’re accusing me of wanting to “inflame” things. Nor is telling me to go look it up for myself an option; that’s your job. You made nasty accusations and you can’t back them up.

              Like

              1. Ginmar, I’m done with telling my side, when it’s clear you never intended to hear me. I’ve told the truth for those willing to listen–and whether you chose to defend someone like Blythe or not is up to you. I doubt there’s anything I could say that would have any impact on you, anyway. All I can do is speak from my heart and be honest about my experience. My job is not to “prove” anything to anyone, but to write books that are meaningful. And that’s exactly what I intend to do, with or without your blessing. Goodbye.

                Like

                  1. As much as I want this conversation to end, I am also a believer in synchronicities. Last night, out of the blue, my husband is cleaning out a desk drawer we never use, and he pulls out the pages with all of Blythe’s and another friend’s comments about who my daughter(s) are-where they live, where they go to school, etc. This is the proof you ask for. After two years of not talking about this painful experience, my hubby finds it the day you ask for it-must mean something. I hadn’t even told him about our conversation. So please go to my site and send me an email or tell me your email address if you want to see it. I will take a photo of it and send it to you, but only if you promise to clear my name that I was not making this up. I have never lied about any of this. I can’t just post it because it has Twitter info and other identifying info about them that I am not going to divulge to the public (to protect their privacy.) Just so you are aware, my husband had printed it out at the time, because we were afraid they were stalking my family, and he wanted it for the police if it ever came down to it.

                    Like

                  2. I sent three samples from the ten pages of this stuff that I have. The ones I sent have links to her school info about her, my kids ages, their interests and criticisms about my parents. And by the way, like them, I did try to get Goodreads to reveal the IP addresses of the people I was being accused of being a “sock puppet” but they refused. I was upset at them for some time as that, too, would have cleared my name. Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you after you look at it.

                    Like

                  3. I tried looking at two of the downloads and they’re so blurry on my screen I can’t make out anything but blotches.

                    You didn’t answer my question, however. You admitted your daughter posted an admiring review…..without disclosing she was your daughter. If she had openly written as your daughter, that would be one thing, but she did not. Then there are those curious reviewers I described above: only registered within days of the Harris review, only liked your book, only reviewed YOUR book, and attacked ONLY Harris’ review. Are you really saying that you think it’s unreasonable of her to be suspicious?

                    Like

                  4. She was 15 at the time. What she did was to defend her mom. Once. Give me a break. She’s a kid. With the five star review, she wanted to say something good about her mom. I think her name was right on there. But don’t start with her. I am amazed that she didn’t join in on it all when they were lying about all sorts of things about us. She showed great poise, and I am happy for that. I told her not to comment again, and she didn’t.

                    Like

                  5. So…..you’re going to take a picture of a piece of paper? You should know that it better be a really good picture, because that kind of setup makes tampering ridiculously easy.

                    I notice that you admit in the comments to Harris’ review that the admiring reviewer she and others were discussion was in fact your daughter. Harris pointed out the fact that you’d been caught once already, how LIKELY was it for there to be all these fans of yours registering solely to admire your book, defend YOU, and attack her review? All in the span of a day or so? What a remarkable series of coincidences, isn’t it?

                    Like

                  6. Come on. This is ridiculous. You can tell from the pic it’s real, as the page is a Twitter page and no way that kid of formatting could be made up. Also, as soon as they said something about a person who had given my book five stars A YEAR BEFORE IT CAME OUT, and I realized it was my daughter and admitted it immediately. Lots of people were commenting. All I know is that I wasn’t pretending to be a fan of my own book. See the papers I sent, and then get back to us.

                    Like

  20. I’m on the second page of the Harris review now, and she reported that someone is trying to find out where she lives and works.

    The sock puppets, the searches for her location……those are rather huge things to omit, don’t you think?

    Like

    1. I was never a “sock puppet” as I have stated from the beginning. Like I said numerous times, I asked GR to clear my name and they wouldn’t get involved. I have no idea what Blythe is talking about stalking. I never tried to hunt her down–didn’t want anything to do with her. From that email I just sent you, you can see that it was SHE who found out specifically where I lived and said it was ten minutes from her, which I hadn’t known. Now I am done. I get the feeling this could go on for ever, and though I gave you exactly what you asked for, you won’t admit it. I’ve done my part. I wish you would do yours. I am not the enemy here, never have been. Not sure why you want to see me in that light so badly.

      Like

      1. I can’t see anything from what you sent me. It’s too blurry.

        I never said YOU were a sock puppet, but I DID ask you why you omitted Harris’ comments about someone searching HER out, and what you thought of the obvious sock puppets registering only to harass her. I haven’t even finished rereading all the comments yet.

        Like

      2. TinaNicole

        Okay, all I’m going by is what you came here and said. Nobody here sought you out. Nobody came to you and yet you’re acting as if you’re being harassed or dragged into something against your will, that others just won’t let it go? Really?

        Did you really think that nobody would question your claims? That nobody would wonder why you’re here starting up drama over a two year old issue on a post that doesn’t involve you? A question I’ve asked twice, btw, and you’ve yet to answer.

        And you expect Ginmar, or any other person of moderate intelligence, to believe that you just happened across this post, decided to tell your ‘story’, and then your husband just magically comes across some ten pages of printouts of Blythes Twitter feed? All over an issue you claim to be over and done with?

        And what is our part in this exactly? What are you expecting us to do, Ms Schulman? Besides buy whatever your selling without question, of course.

        What is it that you want? What do you think we’re going to do for you? Again I ask you, what do you think, or what are you hoping, all this is going to accomplish?

        Like

        1. I swear that this is what happened with the Twitter thing. My husband didn’t know that I had started this conversation, and he found it in a drawer. I was going to bow out of this discussion, but I felt like “someone” or “something” was telling me to put this strange situation out there. It was a very bizarre coincidence-I’m sure that’s happened to you before. I try to listen when it does happen. What I wanted from Ginmar, which hasn’t been done yet, is to verify that what I said about the Tweets were true. She now has a clear picture of several parts and she can’t deny it’s real. We will see if she will do it or not. I guess overall, I wanted my name to be cleared. I didn’t have any part in things that I have been accused of–not even being a sock puppet. I can see, though, that I will never be able to convince those whose minds are determined to think otherwise. But, I do also know that there are reasonable people out there who will look at this, see what I said and did to show evidence, and come away knowing that I am not who I’ve been portrayed to be. That makes me feel better. As for the rest of you, win some lose some. I will keep writing books. I will get better with each one. I will gain more readership with each success. And I will live a happy life, regardless of those people out there who want to bring me down for whatever odd reason of their own. Ginmar, I will await your response on what I sent you. In your email, you said you would tell the truth. Thank you.

          Like

          1. TinaNicole

            She has nothing. She sent me what you sent her and they are unreadable. There is nothing even recognizable as twitter on them and I tried to enhance them with my pc’s program as well as my image hosting. And since you seem to believe that ginmar is being untruthful, this is a link to the images you sent.

            But even if ginmar did see the twitter discussion, how is she going to clear your name? You know this isn’t her blog, yeah? Do you even know who she is?

            You can keep subtly insulting me but it’s not going to get you anywhere, insinuating gimar and I are terrible people for questioning your claims. I have no vendetta against you. If I hadn’t received an email that you posted here, I would’ve never known you existed. And If you believe thinking for yourself and not believing everything strangers on the internet tell you is a character flaw then so be it. I’ll keep using my head, thanks. So maybe you can cut the woe is me nonsense and look a little closer at what’s been said to you here.

            Who exactly is trying to bring you down? I’m pretty sure nobody, likely not even Blythe Harris, has given you a second thought in quite some time. You are the one starting this up again? You are the one arguing a point that was never made or discussed here. Nobody accused you of anything, not even being a sock puppet, you came here making accusations and it’s up to YOU to prove them. Nobody owes you anything. And if you’re so concerned with clearing your name, why don’t you go to your own blog and post your pictures and your story? Why are you here demanding random internet strangers look into your info and do things for you?

            Seriously, WTF?

            Like

              1. TinaNicole

                Oh, FTLOG. I hope your quest to convince the Internetz of…well, whatever it is you’re trying to convince them, via Ginmar, is successful.

                Godspeed, cupcake.

                Like

  21. Pingback: Blog Post #2 – Hale No, 2.0: Internet Platforms and Boundaries | Who's Responsible, Anyway?

  22. Pingback: Some Thoughts About Digital Identity, Part 2 | Where's My Hogwarts Letter?

  23. Pingback: Stalking Reviewers | My So Called Y(oung) A(dult) Life

  24. Pingback: Anne Rice wants to dox you! | 38 Caliber Reviews

  25. I remember reading about this story when it “exploded” last year, and being utterly disgusted and horrified by it. Not just from a blogger’s perspective, but from a writer’s perspective, too. Reviewers write about their opinions on books and share them with the world. That’s what they do. Some of them will love it; others won’t. This is something a writer must expect, accept, and respect once said writer publish his/her work. Period.

    I had (or rather, still have) other issues with the controversy as well… But when I was compelled to write about it for my blog, I didn’t want to reiterate the facts or get into a debate about things. Instead, I wanted to treat the controversy as a learning experience, especially since I straddle both sides of the writing and book-blogging fence. I was curious to see what we could all could take away from the situation. I’d like to think something like this won’t happen again… but who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to say that it has changed the community, but I’m not really sure it has. A couple months later, there was an incident in Scotland (I think) of an author bashing a wine bottle over a reviewer’s head while she was at work, and I’m certain they won’t be the last incidents, either.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😦

        Well, I don’t want to be that writer who bashes wine bottles over reviewers’ heads. Or the one who fishes for reviewers’ addresses and contact information. I will let reviewers do their thing and give them their space and privacy.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. OMG… I have never heard of either of these authors or their writings, but I have seen this pattern of crazy self-destruction over and over again since starting online all the way back in 1986. Maybe I should write a book. When are people going to realize that there needs to be a dividing line between what is said online vs. to your face.

    People who would not dare say a cross word to another person in public are perfectly capable of performing an online evisceration. On the receiving side, the target of this wrath is convinced they cannot possibly survive allowing that treatment to stand. Avid conflict seekers then get to watch the online equivalent of the Jerry Springer Show as both sides and their supporters claw each other to pieces. It can become pure entertainment gold if you enjoy that sort of thing.

    Folks, take it from someone who has been around online for almost 30 years:

    1) Never take the bait. Who the hell cares what someone who does not even know you thinks about you. Seriously, if you actually take what a stranger says online personally, it is time to get offline. When getting online angergrams and cannot help yourself by just ignoring it, just respond with something like, “oh my, you have strong opinions” and then move on! It dead ends the discussion instantly.

    2) Get over yourself. Nobody actually cares about this as much as you do, but people will stay and watch the show and, intentionally or not, pour fuel on the fire as you make an ass of yourself. When you are smart enough to forget about it, so will everyone else.

    3) There is one word for someone who does background checks, calls a workplace and goes to their opponent’s house and it isn’t “reporter.” It is “psycho.” Seek the advice of a professional or get some for free: Even if you discover the person you loathe is actually Osama bin Laden-reincarnated, when people find out how you got your information, Osama II will look like the victim, you will look like a nutter.

    4) Believe it or not, six months from now nobody will give a sh*t about this, even though you think it is the only thing that does matter when it’s a big story. The sooner the parties let it go, the faster everyone else will. The dwindling comments here over time prove that point.

    5) If someone puts dog crap in your mailbox, get a hose, not column space in the Guardian to write about it. It’s amazing to me common sense has become so elusive to people who should be adults but do not act like it. If you rise to the bait, you are only going to get more of it. People who do this kind of thing live to see you respond.

    I have had my experiences with the unbalanced over the years including a friend who secretly recorded many of our phone calls and wanted to use that as leverage with others. I said prove it and he supplied some tapes. I made copies and went to all parties involved and offered to play them myself if they cared. Nobody did and they went into the bin. It made the guy who made the recordings look crazy without me ever having to say it, and the issue was instantly dead. Even if I had the option of writing the whole sordid affair up in the newspaper, that would be the last thing I would ever do. It was not worth the time/energy.

    Next time anyone is confronted with crap like this, do not let it own you. Learn to let it go before someone has to write a blog post like this that condenses (really?) the story for new audiences that missed part of the show.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Pingback: BOOK THOUGHTS ON THURSDAY | REMEMBERING WHY I LOVE THE BOOKISH INTERWEBS | RAIN CITY READS

  28. Okay, so I think what Hale did was wrong- what she did was inexcusable. But, on the other hand, I’m just not convinced “Harris” was in the right either. Having read what “Harris” said, I have to be blunt and say I think she was unprofessional as a blogger. Firstly, her analysis is poor. How does she manage to translate “huggable” to “slut”? That’s quite a leap to make and unfair of her. The problem then is not that she wrote a negative review- every blogger writes negative reviews at some point- it’s that it’s inaccurate. It’s even more disconcerting, considering the fact that according to Hale there wasn’t even any rape in the book for there to be rape apologists. Secondly, she resorts to name-calling fairly quickly (eg slut-shaming)- which makes me think of her as more of a troll than a professional reviewer. From what I can see she also seems to misunderstand the difference between when an author is being satirical and when she is just being offensive (Hale is clearly being the former). “Harris” was just not a good enough reviewer to pick up on these subtleties. So, while I don’t condone what Hale did, I still think “Harris” wasn’t entirely without fault. From what I can see, she deliberately baited a first time author and set out to undermine her career. She should not have used her influence in this way.

    Like

    1. Helen

      I think you are mistaken about Harris’ role in this debacle. She was neither a professional blogger nor book reviewer; the quotes in question come from notes she shared with her circle of friends on Goodreads.com, an online book journaling site for regular folks who are avid readers and share their impressions with similarly-minded folks. It’s entirely amateur and was never purported to be a professional book review in any shape or form.

      Thus the confusion on the part of many observers as to why Hale was so very obsessed with a literal nobody who had no power over her whatsoever. The quotes in question don’t even appear on Harris’ Goodreads page — one must dig into the sub-commentary of her reading notes to even find them.

      Like

      1. Erm I’m a bit confused if I’m honest. Why did she get an advanced copy of the book if she wasn’t a reviewer? I think quite a few articles have implied she was a book blogger, including Hale’s (admittedly disturbing) piece and this one. Also it’s not like Goodreads is private platform. Quite a few articles have argued that what she did was trolling (such as this one http://www.bustle.com/articles/44927-kathleen-hale-controversy-brings-up-major-issues-in-the-new-era-of-book-blogging-social-media)
        Honestly, after what you said and everything I’ve read, I’m still torn. Not over what Hale did- that was clearly messed up. But I still don’t know if “Harris” was just an innocent bystander in all this.

        Like

    2. It sounds like you’re accepting Hale’s side of the story, which has been proven to be not true. First, you realize that statuatory rape IS rape, right? And that slut shaming is itself identifying the kind of slurs Hale used? How is doing what Harris did—–not even writing a review, much less doing anything Hale claimed—-baiting?

      Hale’s claims have repeatedly been proven false. That article? Taken from Hale’s side.

      There is NO “both sides” here. Goodreads is for readers to talk among themselves. Harris did NOT rent a car and fraudeulently obtain Hale’s address. Harris does not have THREE powerful writers/publishers at her disposal. These things mean that Hale—-a woman who has previously attacked another person over allegations only she knew of—-had a HUGE amount of power over Harris.

      Harris had an opinion and expressed that with words.

      Hale made up things to justify, yet again, physically acting out against someone she disagreed with. She escapated a disagreement into stalking. To link them and treat words and actions as if they were equal actions is to minimize how threatening Hale’s actions are.

      Like

      1. Whoa whoa whoa- I definitely did not say that. Don’t misrepresent what I’m saying. And don’t make out like I’ve minimized Hale’s actions in any way, because I haven’t. Here’s all the time’s I said Hale was in the wrong:
        1. “I think what Hale did was wrong- what she did was inexcusable”
        2. “I don’t condone what Hale did”
        3. “Hale’s (admittedly disturbing) piece”
        4. “I’m still torn. Not over what Hale did- that was clearly messed up.”
        I will say once more for the record that I think Hale is unstable.

        Now that that’s cleared up, I would also like to make it clear that I did not think that Harris deserved to be stalked. It was an inappropriate and a disproportionate reaction. However I’m *certainly not* connecting the two to minimize how threatening Hale’s actions are, I am merely acknowledging the chain of events in this crime (because yes, obviously I think stalking is a crime). That’s not to say Harris did anything wrong- but I have to acknowledge what caused Hale to lose it and commit this crime- it’s called a motive. So I’m not going to pretend like these two things are unrelated. It would be poor analysis not to look at the cause (it’s important because it’s this analysis that actually *prevents* crime! Although obviously in this case one would conclude the crime had more to do with Hale’s mental state than anything else)

        Which leads me onto the point I was actually making in this post: whether Harris’ blog constituted trolling and if it was professional. In all honesty, I’m still open-minded about that- especially as I am forced to get my evidence from poor sources (I have not read the book- and am extremely unlikely to ever do so and therefore am relying on second hand sources). Therefore I was willing to listen to Hale’s claim about the presence of rape in the book- given she wrote it. If that was an outright lie, please tell me, and I will add it to the list of reasons I’m already forming in my head about why Hale is unstable. That being said, I don’t see why I should trust Harris’ interpretation of the book, given that what she said was not backed up with good evidence. The word “huggable” is not, as far as I’m aware, a slur or a way of slut-shaming. The other argument I read in this blog (by the person who responded to Harris) was that Hale was being satirical- which seemed like a reasonable explanation. I’m sorry, but I can’t just jump on the bandwaggon and assume everything Harris said was true because of what Hale did- and so far I’m not convinced that the book was some disgusting piece of misogynistic propaganda.

        Like

        1. “Some disgusting piece of misogynistic propaganda….”

          If you want me to do ANYTHING, you need to observe your own rules. No one, at any time, has even HINTED at this.

          You are familiar with the way people try and evade the victim blaming label, right? “I’m not victim blaming, but… ”

          I’ve already pointed out that statuatory rape IS rape, and going off my unrefreshed memory, several reviewers pointed out that Hale treated rape casually. Kind of like how she treated stalking, as a matter of fact.

          Listening to Hale’s opinion is idiotic. Do you think she has anything to gain by lying? She certainly is the most trustworthy person to ask to judge her own actions and opinions, of course. What could possibly go wrong?

          All those things you posted in your defense, by the way, served as the first part of the victim-blaming construction I quoted above. “I’m not saying Hale isn’t a stalker……but Harris gave her a motive, Harris lied about the book, Harris did this, Harris did that.”

          I don’t tend to waste my time with victim blaners. Your constant little digs at Harris are all too clear. Oh, you’re totally not saying Harris asked for it, but you just that accept Harris’ justifications for stalking lie in Harris’ actions. And whose opinion do you accept there? Hale.

          You’re not listening and I refuse to waste any more of my time.

          Like

          1. Haha okay, you’re absolutely ridiculous. I proved that I was not on Hale’s side and yet you somehow manage to come to the conclusion I’m on Hale’s side? You’re an idiot. Whoever said statutory rape is not rape? What are you even going on about? You are literally spouting rubbish and it does not help your case.
            So you don’t think I should listen to Hale’s side at all? Then I hope you never get jury duty, because you don’t believe in listening to the defence and you don’t believe in motives. You don’t believe in a fair trial or real justice. You think you are “liberal” but you are a fascist. Someone shouts “rape” and you just lynch them.
            I am sick and tired of people like you who are incapable of critical thinking and just close down any and every debate with cries of “victim blamer!” and “rape apologist!” Then you just run away with your tail between your legs because you are unable to deal with any analysis that does not fit in with your narrow world view. Try actually finding evidence and engaging in a debate like a mature adult. In my last post I said I was open minded and left it open for you to prove me wrong- you have made no attept to do so. Go troll someone else.
            (NB I was being hyperbolic for effect- but my point was that Harris threw around similar terms to the ones you’ve just used, which implied she was calling Hale a misogynist etc. I’m sorry that was lost on you, but then, as I said, you’re not very good at analysis, are you?)

            Like

        2. Helen

          “[…] whether Harris’ blog constituted trolling and if it was professional.”

          Orangu: yet what Harris wrote was no more trolling than what you have written here — in fact, *less* so. You are writing negative things about Hale’s character in a public blog discussion online. Blythe Harris did even less than that: expressed her honest opinion about a book she disliked, in a series of notes shared with friends online. She said nothing negative about Hale herself.

          Unless someone directly contacts the other person provocatively with an intent to engage, how on earth can a casual literary opinion published on a site less accessible than Amazon Reviews be construed as “trolling”?

          I also don’t understand why you are placing the burden of veracity on someone’s emotional reaction to a young adult novel. Even if Harris had claimed the novel was about space aliens harvesting guinea pigs, it doesn’t affect her right to express whatever opinion she has of it without personal harassment. By calling her purely subjective evaluation a “motive” for crime, you are implying that just having an opinion about a book = incitement for crime. I find this troubling.

          In an Amazon reader review, I myself did, in fact, refer to Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ more or less as a “misogynistic piece of trash”. It certainly incited lots of loyal readers to disparage my review, but that’s perfectly acceptable and — in fact — the raison d’etre for online book reviews. If Gabaldon herself used her insider connections to get my address and show up at my house, would you also find that my review “incited” her actions?

          As to your call for “professionalism”, I believe advanced copies are a gimmick the publisher has with Goodreads (although I may be wrong, I’ve never engaged with the program) to stimulate excitement among dedicated readers, and not a professional call for reviews a la the Times Book Review.

          Like

          1. I never said she “incited” any actions. Nor did I say Harris was to blame- I’ve been very clear on that point. As a consequence, of this I agree that my posts have gotten out of hand when talking about Hale. I also agree, on balance, that what she did was not trolling.
            However, I have not placed “the burden of veracity on someone’s emotional reaction to a young adult novel”. Saying something is a motive does not make what the victim was in the wrong or reduce the crime. It’s simply a statement of fact. For example, someone could kill someone else for “looking at them wrong”. Does that mean the victim “had it coming”? Of course not! Does that make the perpetrator innocent? Hell no. When I mentioned motives, I was not saying that Harris did anything wrong- I was just pointing to the connection between the two events, as Ginmar had questioned why I linked the two events.
            My questioning was more specifically targeted at the *quality* of the review. Irrespective of what happened afterwards, it makes sense to analyse what Harris actually said. I would look at your review of Gabaldon in the same way. If you gave unsubstantial evidence to back up your claim that it was a “misogynistic piece of trash”, then I would likewise be inclined to question whether it was a good analysis of the book.
            You say she is entitled to her opinions- and I wholeheartedly agree. But do I not have the same rights to question those opinions? Harris is not instantly immune from criticism just because she is a victim; just because she is a victim does not mean I am “victim blaming” by criticising her.

            Like

            1. Helen

              “Harris is not instantly immune from criticism just because she is a victim; just because she is a victim does not mean I am “victim blaming” by criticising her.”

              Sure, but what would be the point of this criticism? If your goal is simply to evaluate someone’s online book review and say you think it’s a lousy review because it misrepresents the book, there’d be no point in posting that on *this* particular discussion, would there? You’d just post your negative evaluation under the actual lousy review in question.

              “Irrespective of what happened afterwards, it makes sense to analyse what Harris actually said.”

              No, actually I don’t think it makes sense. It would only make sense to analyse it in the context of this harassment incident if one thinks there is something that could have been written by Harris that in any way influenced the outcome.

              I don’t personally believe that ANY WORDS written online, good bad or horrible, have the power to sway an outcome of mentally unhinged stalking and harassment. That power lies solely in the head of the stalker.

              In the context of this incident, *it doesn’t matter in the least what Harris wrote*. I don’t give a damn what she wrote, in point of fact, because nothing she wrote can explain what happened. There are eleventy zillion even more negative, snarky, misleading book reviews published by amateur (and professional!) bloggers every day, and the relevant authors somehow manage to keep their cool.

              The only factors that can explain why THIS PARTICULAR review escalated into personal danger are in the head of the author/reactor herself. Thus the horrified focus on Hale’s instability and unprofessionalism, in this discussion and others around the web.

              Is that clearer?

              Like

              1. 1. I don’t see the problem in voicing my concerns here. My thoughts were in response to this discussion, so I wrote them here.
                2. It did influence the outcome- Hale clearly states as much. As you’ve said, the “only factors that can explain why THIS PARTICULAR review escalated into personal danger are in the head of the author/reactor herself”. She’s given her reason. And obviously her reason is not justified, but it’s still the reason she did it.
                3. Given that people have gone off to join Isis after reading mere words on the internet- I’d beg to differ.

                Like

  29. Pingback: Not All Authors, But READERS ARE NOT YOUR BITCH | Tez Says

  30. Pingback: Troll Hell: do you keep quiet or fight back against social media nasties? | Words & Pictures

Leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s